Levy’s Dreams

Rereading Jacob Levy’s case against Bush I’m a bit puzzled by his political ideals:

I dislike Kerry. I’ve disliked him for fifteen years; in New Hampshire we had plenty enough exposure to him to leave me sick of him a long time ago. And, man oh man would I prefer to be supporting a pro-Social Security privatization, pro-voucher, pro-tax cut incumbent president who was serious about fighting the war on terrorism and democratizing the Middle East and who might appoint Supreme Court justices who would enforce a strict reading of the Commerce Clause. Even support for the Federal Marriage Amendment wouldn’t outweigh all of that, since the President doesn’t play a direct role in amending the Constitution and anyway I feel sure that the FMA will never pass.

Now as Levy recognizes, current federal revenues fall short of current expenditures by a significant margin. Levy expresses concern about this fact elsewhere in his post. None of these Levy-favored initiatives would seem to imply cuts in federal expenditures. Indeed, it seems that getting “serious about fighting the war on terrorism and democratizing the Middle East” would require increased expenditures. Social Security privatization, too, would increase federal expenditures in the short-term until our current retirees are dead. Vouchers would not, strictly speaking, entail a spending increase, but federal leverage over education policy derives entirely from the exercise of the spending power, so for the federal government to push the country toward vouchers in a substantial way would, again, require it to spend more money. So how, in the context of all this new spending, are we supposed to get a president who’s also pro-tax cut? Agricultural subsidies play almost as large a role in my personal demonology as they do in Levy’s, but they simply aren’t a huge portion of federal expenditures. One could, I suppose, achieve the Levy agenda by simply eliminating (not privatizing, eliminating) Medicare altogether, but that doesn’t seem pragmatically achievable, and if one really thinks old people should just die when they get sick, one ought to say so clearly.